"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: July 2003

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GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT

The Yankees and the Sox rivalry is great because there is so much history, and so much emotion to invest if you happen to be a fan of either team (although I do know some Yankee fans who sincerely don’t have any special feeling for or against the Sox; I don’t know any Sox fans who don’t hate the Yankees). It’s the ultimate story of the Have’s vs. the Have Not’s. Every game adds to the story.

Since the mid to late 90s (the Mo Vaughn era), the Sox have been competitive with the Yanks. Of course, they have come up short every year, but it’s not for lack of trying. They haven’t finished fourth. They’ve finished second. They have pushed and run with the Yankees, but they haven’t pushed them over yet.

What is different now is that you don’t sense any personal feelings of antagonism between the pplayers. Manny, Sori, Pedro, Bernie these guys all know each other. With the exception of Clemens, and maybe Boomer, I don’t think there is any bad blood between these guys personally.

A good friend of mine was recently lamenting the lack of juice in the rivalry, because he thought that these Red Sox aren’t as good as the Boston teams of the late mid to late 70s, I don’t know. I think what he missed was the feeling of personalized competitiveness that used to exist between the players; everything is so darn amiable in the current game. You don’t get that same edge. Everything is so exposed, and manicured these days, he was saying, and as a result, dull. Boring.

He has a point. You don’t have Fisk vs. Munson anymore (unless you count Pedro vs. George), but what you do have is terrifically competitive ball. With lots of humorous and compelling personalities. Just not as man Red Asses. Most of the guys today are pusscats. A good Red Ass is hard to find. Sure, it might be funnier if they didn’t like each other, but that’s just the way it is these days. Why fight it?

The truth is I don’t know how many one-run games the Yankees and Sox have played in over the last six years, but I can guess it’d be a lot. They are usually tense from the first pitch, and they play a back and forth emotional slugfest throughout. You rarely feel cheated. Even an ass beating either way can be absorbing, but it depends on how into S&M you are.

Even though the Yankees always come out in front, Boston fans do have a collection of nice memories to go along with the loses over the past six, seven years. The Hillenbrand dinger against Mo early last year comes to mind first, and there are others.

You can add another photo to the album tonight. The Yankees came back from four runs down to tie the score at four. Ruben Ruben had a 2 RBI pinch-hit single in the 7th. Karim Garcia later drove Nicky Johnson home to tie the game.

Mussina pitched into the eighth and then old man Jesse strug wack-ass Gabe Kapler out on a check swing to end the inning. Boo boo Benitez blew the game in the ninth—David Ortiz hit the game winner off the green monster in left. Well, what did you expect? There is no shame in that. Let him get it out of his system. No seriously, what did you expect? The guy is going to give up runs, blow some situations. Fine. Bring him back tomorrow in the same situation and expect that he’ll get it done. That’s the only way to play it. What are you going to do? You play with the guys you have, right?

I was at work this afternoon, and I followed the game on and off through the fifth. When I left, I trooped up Broadway, from 50th street to 86th street. It’s my old man’s birthday tomorrow and I needed to get him a gift, so I hit Barnes and Noble. I already burned the old man a cd mix of comedy bits from Lenny Bruce and Nichols and May, which he’ll love, because it’s hilarious. I was looking through the baseball books when I realized I had an extra copy of the Sandy Koufax biography at my house, just waiting to be given as a gift. Bingo.

I willfully avoided the game. The 7th or 8th inning took place during my walk to the subway; I saw the Sierra hit on the computer at work. I had a Walkman with me, but I listened to an old mix tape instead.

Now the 1 and 9 local IRT trains have an issue this weekend. “A definite type of situation,” as Broadway Danny Rose would say. Between 168th street and Dykman (200th street), the train will not be running. All customers must transfer at 168th street to a shuttle bus, running up to Dykman and back. Then you get back on the train and continue your journey.

It’s a pain in the ass. It doesn’t happen often, because the 1 and 9 line is the Broadway local, which is well kept by the MTA. It is local train so is stops often, but it’s a very reliable train. If you live uptown, you have to deal with more of a headache or two, but then again, welcome to reality, man. It maybe happens twice a year, sometimes more. Weekends only.

What’s amusing about the whole deal is getting off the train and getting on a bus with everybody. It’s like a field trip with all the people in your neighborhood. I live in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood. But you also get your Irish, your Jewish, your Asian, yer Middle Eastern, a little Slavic. Mostly Spanish and Irish. I live in the land where Manny and Pedro are kings. The Red Sox hats rival the Yankee hats no problem. (They used to rock Tribe caps.)

Manhattan is very hilly between Dykman, through the heart of Washington Heights, to Columbia Pres on 168. It’s the highest land on the island. Though there is a sharp decent from 188ish and Dykman. The bus moves slowly. It trudges. People editorialize. A fat ass couple buffaloed their way onto the crowded bus I was on this morning, just as the doors were closing (never mind there was another bus right behind us). They came in through the rear door, and the driver couldn’t close the door cause the guy was in the well. He finally got his act together, and you should seen this these two. Out to lunch.
The woman was bitching about this and bitching about that. When the bus started it’s way down the hill, these two are trying to balance themselves, as the bus picks up speed.

The woman spoke in a loud, clear voice. “Hey, I know you going to be easy on the breaks cause you got passengers attempting to maintain our balance back here.” She turns to her husband, shaking her head. “I think this bitch is trying to kill us.”
On my return trip this afternoon, every cockarovich with a license was out on Broadway in Washington Heights with his car in the way of the bus. Stoopid ass traffic.

When I got out of the train at 168 I put on Sterling and Steiner and caught the post game show. It took several tense minutes before I learned who had won. I tried to figure it out through Steiner’s presentation, but they were still busy playing the Yankees comeback. I looked around at the other passengers, listening intently. When the word came down that the Yanks lost, I was bummed, but not distraught. When I heard it was Benitez, I was like ‘OK, that’s fine.’ Good for the Sox. They have to win that game. Fine.

Then the ride took forever and a day, but I thought about how my friend Johnny Red Sox actually bought a couple of tickets for the game and was there. He brought his girl, a Yankee fan up there for the day. So for what it’s worth, my level of friendship with John superseded my personal disappointment for a while. His trip was worth it. And he’ll get laid tonight and the weekend will have turned out great, and so I’m happy for his stinkin ass.

It looked like the Sox were going to lose again, but they showed true grit and banged out the win. When I got off the shuttle train at 231rst Street, I felt all right. You want to know why? Because the level of competition between the Yanks and Sox is consistently high. And if they are so many great games, well, hey, the Sox have to win some too, right?

Today was another great game, decided in the late innings. The games are almost always close. What they lack in personal venom they make up for in theater, tension, and good old fashion hardball. Both parks are great, they look great in the day and they look great at night. Both teams have great uniforms (most of the time). I think the Yankees, Sox rivalry is alive and well, even if the Yankees do hold the overall advantage, because the Sox are a good team who aren’t afraid to play with the Yankees. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Anyway, I figured Weaver would be involved in some melodrama tomorrow on Sunday Night Baseball. Unless it’s just me. But tomorrow it’s all on the line for my man. It’s actually a good match up for him, because Lowe is the pitcher that Weaver should aspire to be. Weaver is capable of being good, as he showed against the Jays before the break, but his ass is on the line here. Got to keep the ball down, meat. Leave the duce at home, bro. This is the Sox. The Red Sox do not fear Jeff Weaver. Do you?

Oh yeah, here is an e-mail I recieved this evening from my friend Shawn Clap:

Does Joe Torre not watch Met games? Does he not read the papers?

What would convince him and Mel that Armando could get 5 lefties out in one inning?

I still hate Nick Johnson, but a little less than before.

-Shawn

Hey, tough crowd, babe.

MUSHED True to form, the

MUSHED

True to form, the Sox have rebounded from last night’s loss, and are holding the Yanks down through five this afternoon at the Fens. Both Nomar and Manny have homered. Boston leads, 4-0. Old man Burkett is out-pitching Mike Mussina. How is that for dumb luck? Glad I’m not watching.

Of course the Yanks still have plenty of time to come back, but my spidey-sense is telling me that the Sox will cruise today. What? You thought that Jeff Weaver was going to have a pressure-free outing on national television tomorrow night? Fat chance.

The question is: will it be his last with the Bombers?

THE MORNING AFTER There was

THE MORNING AFTER

There was no mention of Manny’s base running in the Boston papers this morning, while the New York press went with the “same as it ever was” angle on the game.

Not only was Enrique fine, but Bernie had three hits off Pedro, and enjoyed his best game since returning from the dl, in spite of misplaying Manny’s fly ball into a double. I was thinking about how Manny missed first on that play, and I first assumed it was because he thought he had hit it out. But maybe he missed it cause he thought Bernie was going to make the catch. No excuse, either way.

Jesse Orosco was onions whiffing Damon with the bases-loaded in the sixth, and Armando pitched well in a pressure-packed situation to boot. Kudos to Boomer Wells, who walked five, and hung tough on a night when his back was bothering him, and he didn’t have his best stuff. Ditto to Pedro, who is as good as it gets, even when he takes an “L.”

I don’t know if any other pitcher could get away with the smack he was talking to Dana Demuth late in the game.

Loyal Bronx Banter readers, Jamie and Gioia Bakum—Yankee fans living in the heart of Beantown, were at the game. This morning, Jamie sent me his impressions of the game:

Wow – my heart is still just getting settled down. Gioia and I had (fairly crummy) right field seats for this one through one of the 4-game packs we’d ordered back in February. At the bottom of the first, we wandered over to visit a couple who’d come up from Long Island for a family function, pulled in a favor, and gotten field box seats along the first base line. We were both in the bathroom when Jorge homered, which is, of course, the only reason he did. Our friends had four seats for themselves and their two boys and accomodated us (more or less happily, I hope) through 4 innings with the kids alternately on their laps or running around to find cotton candy. They packed up in the bottom of the 6th, and Gioia and I stretched out in our 4-seat row and enjoyed a fantastic view of an incredible game.
Your blow-by-blow was exciting and thorough, so I just wanted to add some random observations:
In an interesting bit of non-foreshadowing, Giambi (the Yankee one) hit several towering home-runs before the game, some of the deepest I’ve seen there during BP.
I had a pre-game mini-stroke upon seeing Weaver throwing in the bullpen, but it must’ve been a tune-up (or a precaution given Well’s back? Yikes, what may have been…).
Red Sox Nation seemed rather subdued, more so than I’ve encountered at Yanks/Sox in a while. Around the watercooler they’ve been as cocky as ever, so I was surprised that I didn’t pick up a really sustained “Yankees Suck” chant until the 4th inning – maybe they were too busy watching the game. I almost fell out of my chair when I heard a couple of Sox fans behind me decrying the proliferation of “Yankees Suck” t-shirts. “What are we telling the children?” one asked to the other. I almost got up and bought them beers.
We were sitting a few rows from Stephen King, though I didn’t see Norman Mailer, DK Goodwin, Roger Angell, or the guy who played Jay Peterman on Seinfeld.
Bottom of the 5th – I think Manny actually got back to first in time on that play, given the poor throw, but was (properly) called out on principle.
Pedro’s breaking stuff was truly wicked. From our vantage point, you could see how far off the righties were. Mondesi swung at one that looked a full 12 inches under his bat. And then he seemed to pick up more velocity toward the end of stint. Amazing.
Meanwhile, Wells looked uncomfortable from the start (we hadn’t heard about the back acting up, of course) and had that David Cone-ish looking post-pitch double shoulder shrug with grimace going most of the night. One of the biggest crowd reactions pre-game was a montage of David’s last start against the Sox in the Bronx, set to “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” and concluding with the glove thrown into the crowd. I was not, as can be imagined, hopeful at that point.
There were ooohs and aaaahs from the crowd on Benitez’s velocity, but it was clear if you were patient he wasn’t hitting the plate consistently. 97mph and waaay outside is really only half impressive.
I’ll cut him some slack for non-familarity, but the most pianful at-bat of the night (even more so than Giambi’s whiffs) was Matsui against Sauerbeck. I don’t think Hideki knew what hit him.
A revised scoreboard for this year shows (along with a pitch indentifier, speed, count and strike/ball breakdown) a hitter’s average against the guy on the mound. My questions on Enrique’s start over a finally-warming-up Ventura were answered as he walked toward the plate for his first at-bat. .400 against Pedro – a hah!
And frankly, I don’t really have any recollections from the 8th or 9th innings. With all my blood rushing around, I was seeing spots and hearing a strange rushing sound. When that weak liner settled into Soriano’s glove Gioia and I skipped our usual post-victory low-key high-five and lept into each other’s arms. Amazing.
And watch Burkett throw a no-no or something today….
Jamie

Tell me about it. I’m happy that I’m stuck working today, because I don’t want to watch the game either. As lame as Burkett as been against the Yanks and as good as Moose has been against the Sox, Boston has a propensity for shrugging off big losses this year. I get superstitious about Yankee-Sox games on Fox too, don’t ask me why. I wouldn’t put any money down on this one. I say the Sox win in a high-scoring affair.

PUTTIN’ HEADS TO BED Bottom

PUTTIN’ HEADS TO BED

Bottom of the Ninth

The heart of order is due up. Manny can still redeem himself. Todd Walker leads off and looks at a strike. He fouls the next pitch, a cutter in on the hands, off, 0-2. Fastball, uncorked ala Nuke Lalooshe, way upstairs. Like the fifth floor. Draws a reaction from the crowd. The next pitch is slashed foul, into the Yankees dugout. The crowd applauds. Still 1-2. Another foul. Another cutter, another foul. Fastball, low, 2-2. Cutter, fouled off to the right side. The next pitch, a fastball high, is chopped to short right field. Sori moves back to his left and makes the catch easily for the first out.

Nomar: Fastball, up and in. Ball one. Fastball, strike. Inside corner. Moans. Fastball, outside, fouled back. Fastball outside, fouled away again. Both times to the right side. That pitch was a little over the plate. Nomar mashes the next pitch off the green monster in left and cruises into second with a double.

Well, this game giveth and it taketh away. And here is Manny, just a single away from a little redemption. The Sox fans are now up in full force. What could be finer than beating Rivera, after all?

Fastball, outside for a ball. (Damn, that was close.) Another fastball, further outside, 2-0. Country hard ball, right down the plate. Manny swings and misses. Wow. Fastball, outside, misses again, 3-1. Fastball upstairs, walked him.

“Semi-intentional,” says Kitty Kaat. Gabe Kapler comes in to pinch run for Manny.

Here’s that man Millar again. The guy Cossette told me is the leader in the clubhouse. The guy who wasn’t shy about getting into it in the papers with Rocket Clemens.

Fastball, outside corner, strike one. Fastball, way upstairs, 1-1. (I’m schvitzin my ass off here. Try to breath, breath.) Fastball, inside. 2-1. Fastball, swung on and missed, fouled back, 2-2. Nice cut, Conan. Millar almost came out of his shoes on that one. Fastball, way upstairs, and Millar swings and misses, strike three. That one was way out of the strike zone. Beauty pitch, eh? Two out.

Jeremy Giambi comes on to pinch hit. Fastball, high. 1-0. Brother Jason is watching from the bench. Posada calls time and walks maybe ten paces towards the mound, and shouts out to Mo and his infielders. Cutter, check swing. No call.

“Borderline,” says Kaat.

Fastball, fouled back. 2-1. Posada is out to talk quickly with Rivera. Fastball, inside, 3-1. One pitch away from loading ‘em up. Cutter fisted softly to Soriano. Everything slows down and suddenly deflates at the Fens. Sori paused, waited, made the catch, and then tossed the ball away. Game over.

YANKS 4. SOX 3

Big win for the Bombers. Exciting and taut. Well, what did you expect?
I’m happy for Bernie and Jorgie. Of course Enrique Wilson played his best game of the year too.

OK, now I can breath. If you’ve managed to follow this entire acccount, so now, can you.

SCRATCHIN’ Top of the ninth

SCRATCHIN’

Top of the ninth

Mr. Kim is on, and Enrique Wilson leads off with his second hit of the night, a clean single up the middle. Sori attempt to bunt again. Ugly, 0-1. On the next pitch, Wilson goes, and after Soriano swings through the fastball, Enrique slides in safely at second, his second swipe of the game. Soriano gets fisted inside, but he pushes a grounder to second and moves Wilson along to third. Way to go Sori.

Ball one and then ball two to Jeter. Slider outside swung on a missed, strike one. Fastball, inside corner, strike two. The crowd is up. Jeter takes a defensive cut and slaps a liner to center. It’s deep enough, and Wilson tags and scores. Yanks take the lead back, 4-3. Way to go smallball.

Kim hits Jason Giambi in the quad with the first pitch. Giambi gives him a little look and heads to first. The crowd is quiet, but not despondent.

Kim gets ahead of Bernie 1-2, and then Williams lofts a short fly ball to Manny in left, 3 out.

Last licks for the Sox. Here come the big boys.

IS IT WARM IN HERE?

IS IT WARM IN HERE?

Bottom of the Seventh

Orosco stays on to face Todd Walker, who skies a fly ball off the end of his bat to shallow center field. Jeter goes back, and Bernie comes in and makes a semi-basket catch. One out. That’s the old Bernie slickness. He always looks like he’s half lucky to have made the catch, and confident that he had it all along. That’s it for Jesse. Here it is: here comes Armando. I can hear the Mets fans licking their chops around the city.

Armando is in, and he gets Nomar to ground out to Jeter, 6-3. Two outs. Manny’s second chance for redemption. This is the Beef factory, baby. 97 mph heater is fouled off, 0-1. Another heater, another great swing, fouled back. Oh, man. Manny is not getting cheated. He’s also not mising by much. Pressure? Fastball, high and away, 1-2. Another heater, low and outside, 2-2. Awww, nutzo. Calm down, big guy. Manny skies a fly ball to Bernie in center who makes the out to end the frame.

Top of the Eighth

Posada leads off. Mike Timlin is in to pitch for Boston. He strikes Jorgie out swinging. Johnson taps out to Nomar, 6-3. Mondesi flies to left. Easy inning for Boston.

Bottom of the Eighth

Was it Ed Cossette who said Millar would be the first Sox to go deep on Armando? He has his chance to lead off the eighth. The crowd is stirring, waiting anxiously to cheer about something. Armando k’s Millar on a 2-2 heater, outside corner. John Blaze. One out. Armando falls behind David Ortiz, 2-0. Ortiz lines a single to right. Damian Jackson is in to run for Ortiz.

Bill Mueller looks at a ball, low. Jackson steals second, ball two. This will be Armando’s last batter if he can’t get Walker out. Posada made the throw from his knees. But Mueller pops the next pitch up to Enrique Wilson in short left field for the second out.

Do you pull Armando? Trot Nixon is due up. Perfect Yankee killer. First pitch is a splitter, low for a ball. The crowd is still cautious in between pitches. The next pitch gets away from Posada. The pitch had a lot of movement on it and it crossed Posada up. Jorge should have had it. He got the fastball, but was expecting the splitter. Jackson moves to third, 2-0.

Here comes Torre to get him and here comes Mo. Elvis Costello, not Metallica, play as Rivera warms up. His first pitch to Nixon is a cutter, inside for ball three. Next pitch, a fastball, right down the middle. 3-1 pitch, way inside, ball four. It’s up to the catcher, Varitek.

Cutter on the inside corner, Varitek can’t check his swing, 0-1. Another cutting, in on the hands, dribbled foul. 0-2. Cutter fisted over Jeter’s head into left for a game-tying single. Good piece of hitting by Varitek. Sox 3, Yanks 3.

Damon looks at a ball, high and outside. First and third, 2 out. Cutter misses inside, 2-0. The next pitch drops in on the outside corner for a strike, 2-1. Damon fouls the next pitch off his foot. Cutter inside, tipped, and caught. Strike 3.

It all comes down to the ninth.

CHASED Top of the Seventh

CHASED

Top of the Seventh

Wilson laces a single to center. Sori tries to bunt on the first pitch, but it rolls foul. The next pitch is a breaking ball that slips out of Martinez’s hand and it goes behind Sori for a wild pitch. Wilson moves to second. Sori tries to bunt again. Fastball, in. Terrible. Sori fouls it off. Breaking pitch, low and away. Sori fouls it off. 1-2 pitch is a fastball, way high. Varitek goes out for the second time of the inning to talk with Pedro. 2-2 pitch, outside corner, is somehow NOT called a strike. This ump is a clown. Another cruddy call. Not a problem. Pedro blows the next one by Sori to sit his ass down again. The Prince has a couple of choice words for Dana too.

First pitch to Jeter is inside for a ball. Ball two. Fastball, Jeter tried to check his swing, strike one. They love to hate Jeter here. Fastball, blown by Jeter, who does his childhood idol Dave Winfield proud with that cut. Another heater, but Jeter manages to foul it back. Good cut. He missed his pitch right there. Enrique is on the move, and Pedro misses upstairs. No throw and Wilson has stolen third. Full count to Jete. The infield moves in. The crowd is up. Another nice-looking pitch, over the outside corner. Jeter does his lean, and gets the call. Ball four. Bloody outrage. Jeter snaps the bat back with vigor. Pedro is talking much trash now. Dana warns him. It looks like he could toss him if he wanted to. But he doesn’t. The Sox converge on the mound. Little is out. And he has a chat with Demuth too. Only Pedro could get away with being so petulent.

Ball one to Giambi. Swing strike. Nail-biting time. The crowd is present, but there are many lulls between pitches. Fastball way outside, Giambi flails at it, strike two. The crowd is passionately up now. Pedro throws another heater right by Giambi for his tenth K of the night. “That’s just raw heat, right there,” says Kitty Kaat.

Pedro has thrown 123 pitches. Here comes Bernie. He needs to come through in a big spot. Fastball, swung on and missed, strike one. There are no silences now. Fastball, low and inside, 1-1. Another cock high fastball, just inside. That damn thing has teeth on it. Look out. Fastball, low, Bernie pops it foul. The count is even and the crowd is nuts. Everybody is standing, applauding. Pressure? Bernie steps out. Bernie and Pedro are doing their little dance. Pedro’s next pitch–128 on the eveing–is a breaking ball that hangs in the zone; Bernie pops it into right for a single. Yanks lead, 3-2. Hot damn.

Little pulls Pedro who receives a much-deserved ovation. Another masterful performance. In spite of the officiating. Scott Sauerbeck, the man the Yankees couldn’t get from the Pirates, comes on to face Matsui. His first pitch jelly-legs Godzilla and falls in for a strike. Curveball, low, 1-1. Another curve, outside; Matsui swings weakly, 1-2. Curve ball in the dirt, and Matsui goes down swinging.

Stretch. Yanks 3 Sox 2

I’ll ask again. Who will be the first Sox to homer off of Armando?

FRIDAY NIGHT: YANKS AT SOX

FRIDAY NIGHT: YANKS AT SOX

WELLS VS. PEDRO

Top of the first

Soriano goes down on strikes. 1-2 breaking ball, what else? Jeter lines out to Nixon in right and on a 3-2 pitch, Pedro misses with a fastball low and away, to Giambi and walks him. Bernie gets fisted and bloops one to left. Fat ass Manny can’t get to it, and Williams has a single. Giambi to third. Matsui looks at two fastballs, and the second one is nasty. It reminds me of what Greg Maddux said in SI this week:
Matsui then smacks one hard up the middle; Nomar dies to his left, stabs it and flips to second. Run saved.

Bottom One

Damon works a full count and then singles to left. Lookit, there’s lil’ Nicky Johnson playing first tonight. Welcome back, Nicky. Walker bounces one to Johnson, who steps on the bag and then adroitly makes the throw to second, where Jeter fields and swipe tags Damon out to complete the 3-6-3 double play. Wells looks uncomfortable. And pissed at home plate ump Dana Demuth to boot. He is 7-0 on the road this year and the Yanks are 9-0 on the road when he pitches. He walks Garciaparra. Nomar?!? Walk number 7 on the year. Unlucky seven.

Manny bombs one to straight away center, Bernie looks like he has a bead on it but he loses it at the wall, and it bounces in for a double. Garcio scores. Manny has himself a double. The replays showed that Ramirez completely missed first base; he was so busy admiring his handiwork the dope missed the bag. Puff much? For his sake, the Sox better win. Millar hits a one hopper to Sori, 5-3.

Top Second

Jorge hits the first pitch into the Sox bullpen. Nixon dives over the wall in vain. I’ll repeat that: Jorge Posada got a hit-a homer!—off of Pedro, who has absolutely owned him. YES Network said he has K’d 26 times off of Martinez. Wow. Nick Johnson lines a single to left. Atta baby. Mondesi hits a slow grounder to second. Pedro covers first, as Johnson moves to second. One out. Enrique Wilson is in the nine hole tonight believe it or not. Pedro falls behind him 3-0. Walks him. Kaat says he was pitching around him on purpose because Wilson has done well against Martinez. He’d rather face the free-swinging Sori. He does and Soriano pops the first pitch up to center for the second out. Kaat is talking about how savvy and confident Martinez is.

Jeter grounds the first pitch foul. The next pitch is low and in, just off the plate. Same pitch, a little better, and Pedro is ahead, 1-2. This guy has so much movement and rotation on his pitches. Fastball outside corner Jeter does his trademark; hanging off a Warner Bros cliff with an anvil in your arms, move. Looks it right into the glove. Wow. Now Pedro is miffed. Next pitch, back inside again, same spot Ball 3. Holy cow these pitches aren’t missing by much. Jeter steps out. Fastball outside, Jeter barely fouls it away to stay alive. Jeter steps out. Boo’s. Pedro is taking forever. Curve ball, and Jeter fouls it off his foot. (Jeter leads the Yanks in hitting with runners in scoring position.) Fastball, low and away. The worst pitch of the at bat, and Jeter walks. Bases juiced for Giambi.

Curveball outside to Giambi. The crowd is skeptical and quiet. Stirring just a bit here and there. Fastball, inside, 2-0. Pedro taking his time. Breaking ball inside, and Giambi can’t hold up, 2-1. Fastball, swung on and missed. Blew it by him, 2-2. Now the crowd is alive. Standing. Fastball, low and in, and a huge groan. Full count. Will Jeter pull a C.C. Sabathiaa? Fastball, outside, diving down and away. Fastball, sinker, forkball? I don’t know. Out of the zone. Giambi waves at it, strike three. Who’s the man? Relief at the Fens for now.

My girlfriend, Emily is going to be thrilled when she hears that her boy Posada hit a homer tonight. I don’t know why she chose Jorgie as one of her favorites. Her first favorite was Giambi, and the Matsui and then Jorgie. Or maybe Posada came before Matsui. But I took time to inform her this morning of Jorgie’s very one-sided relationship with Pedro Martinez. Pedro does Vulcan mind tricks on poor fallible Posada, and he can truly screw Posada’s approach for a week or more. But of course, Emily, a baseball novice, and way to well adjusted to believe in sports superstition, pessimism or negativity—her sense of appreciation doesn’t involve wins and loses–tells me, ‘Jorge will do fine, he’ll do good, don’t worry.’

I’m like, ‘But honey, you don’t understand “

“Okay, whatever. You’ll see.”

Bottom of the Second

David Ortiz grounds a 1-2 pitch to Soriano, 5-3. 1-1 pitch to right handed Bill Mueller is up and in, and so is the next pitch, but this one catches the inside corner. Annoyed response from the fans. Mueller ropes the next pitch into left for a single. Nixon slaps the first pitch he sees into center for a single. First and second, and there is no lack of drama, or base runners tonight, folks.

Boomer comes back and strikes out the nine hitter, Jason Varitek, the catcher. Posada goes out to talk to Boomer for the third time tonight. Sometimes, it just ain’t easy, I guess. Johnny Damon works the count to 2-2 and then slaps a fastball, out over the plate, to left for a run scoring single. Sox, 2-1. Todd Walker flies out to right to end the inning. Wells is horseshit right now.

Top of the Third

Bernie pops out to Millar in foul ground, 1 out. The count goes to 2-2 on Matsui and Pedro just misses, another groan from the crowd. Pedro snaps at the ball on the return throw from Varitek. Matsui grounds the next pitch up the middle, much like his first at-bat, and once again, there is Nomar to make the make the play. Two out. Don’t hit it to that guy again, Matsuso, baby.

Here comes Posada. Limping back to the batters box like a pooch that has disobeyed his master. Pedro reminds Jorgie who is boss and strikes him out on three pitches. The last pitch is a curve ball that just floats to the plate and then dives down out of the zone. I thought it might be a knuckler. Pedro walked off the mound looking at Jorgie like, ‘You’ll never hit another dinger off of me brother, remember who your daddy is.’ Or something to that effect.

Bottom of the third.

Nomar grounds out to Enrique Wilson at third. The crowd seems more subdued that usual tonight. Manny works the count full, and fouls the payoff pitch off. Single off the wall. Another one-out hit for the Sox. When Jeter catches the relay throw from Matsui he turns, in perfect form, flexin his Jeteronomy, and brings the ball back into the infield. It’s why he’s easy to like and easy to hate. He’s got charisma. He’s so into the game, whenever the ball comes to him, he’s a showoff. He’s a gamer. He might not be as great as George Brett, but he’s probably disliked as much as Brett was in his prime. Of course, both players are adored too.

Millar lofts a fly ball to right, and Mondesi makes the catch easily. As this is happening, Manny is drifting across second base. I guess he thinks there were two outs. But he can’t get to back to first in time, and Manny makes his second dumb ass blunder of the game. The play was close at first, and Johnson had to dive to catch him. Was he safe? No, Manny doesn’t get the benefit of the call on that one.

You can get away with one, but not two, Papi. Grady Little can’t believe it on the Sox dugout.

Top of the Fourth

Johnson whiffs. I-2 pitch just misses to Mondesi, but the next pitch doesn’t. Raul whiffs. Enrique Wilson almost throws his back out on the first pitch, a breaking ball in the zone, 0-1. Wilson grounds the next pitch to first to end the inning. Martinez has retired 7 in a row. Manny who?

Bottom of the Fourth

Boston has six hits in three innings off of Wells. Ortiz lines the first pitch toward right, and Johnson spears it for the first out. Bill Mueller looks at a curve for a strike and then pops the next pitch sky hi to center. Bernie makes the catch for the second out.

Boomer throws a strike to Trot Nixon. The Dirt Dog lines the next pitch to Bernie in center for the third out of the inning. Both pitchers have a smooth inning.

If the Sox lose the game, Manny is going to get killed, and if they win, he’ll get killed too, but it won’t sting as much for Sox fans, cause they’ll have won the game. But the papers are going to love this one. I was talking to Ed Cossette last week that thinks that the Boston press and the New England general public give Trot Nixon a pass because he’s a good ol’ scrappy white guy. Whereas Manny, the aloof and unavailable Manuelito, is definitely going to get picked on. Doesn’t matter how much better he is than Nixon.

Top of the Fifth

Sori whiffs on three pitches. Martinez has thrown 75 in the game. The crowd is pensive, cautious. Jeter inside-outs a grounder to the right side. Millar snags it and makes the play to Pedro at first. Could have been a double. Nice stab. Sox flashing the leather tonight.

Curve ball to Giambi, strike one. Fastball, way inside, 1-1. Curve ball, higher, on the outside corner, 1-2. Now the clapping is getting louder Ball inside, and low. In and out here on Giambi. Fastball way outside, Varitek stands up to receive it. 82 pitches. 3-2. Fastball, low and away, fouled back. Good swing by Giambi. Stone silence. Growing clapping again Martinez delivers the high fromage, ‘eee strug ‘im out.’ Seventh strike out for Prince P. Smokin.’

Bottom of the Fifth

Varitek hits the 0-1 pitch on one-hop to Jeter, 6-3. One out. Wells gets ahead of Damon, 0-2, and then Johnny with the big mouth laces his third hit of the night into right for a single. Boomer is bothered with the home plate ump. Another one out hit for the Sox. Wells falls behind Todd Walker, 3-0. Not walk number 8? Yup, walk number 8 on the season for Boomber. No soup for you, fat guy. Here comes Nomie.

Fastball inside, 1-0. Jorgie goes out to talk to Wells. When they decide to get on with it, Nomar fouls the next pitch back, 1-1. Fastball, low, grounded foul, fielded nicely by Karim Garcia in the Yankees dugout, 1-2. Wells spins and chases Damon back to second. Jeter and Sori are miles from the base. Hilarious. A groan from the crowd. High fly ball to center field Bernie’s got it. Damon tags. First and third, two out. Manny hears a smattering of boos along with the cheers as he’s announced. He hits a dinger here, and all will be forgiven.

Curve ball, low. Curve ball, dropping inside and low. Delayed call strike, 1-1. Millar is on deck. Curve ball drops in on the outside part of the plate for a strike, 1-2. Manny is taking forever, and Wells walks off the mound with contempt. Breaking ball, right over the heart of the plate, cock high as they say. Ramirez doesn’t move, strike three, end of inning. Aww, bacon.

Top of the Sixth

Bernie grounds a ball under Todd Walker’s diving glove, into right for a single. Then Pedro almost picks him off as he gets ahead of Matsui 0-2. 90 pitches for Prince P. Fastball, low. The Yanks have to keep it close and get rid of Pedro by next inning. Martinez makes a quick, side step motion like he’s going to throw the ball 98 mph, and he tosses another curve, low and away and Matusi is the eighth victim of the night.

Jorgie slaps a seeing-eye single between Bernie and Todd Walker into right on the first pitch for a single. Bernie moves to third. Here is Nick Johnson. Ball one. The second pitch is a breaking ball that somehow misses?!!?? 2-0. Excuse me? The next pitch is a nastier breaking pitch, on the outside corner, strike. Another breaking ball, low and in, 3-1.

Kaat says Torre likes to hit and run in this situation. Posada and Bernie are not the smartest baser runners on the team. Posada does go and Nick bounces one to second. Kaat calls it on the head, as Bernie scores and Jorgie reaches second safely. 2-2 ballgame. Very quiet now.

Mondesi fishes at the first offering, and then flies out to Nixon in right to end the inning.

Bottom of the Sixth

Millar works the count full, and Dumuth calls a tight fastball strike three. The crowd reacts. Millar and Grady Little are not pleased either. Can Wells avoid giving up another one out hit? Ortiz is up. Wells has thrown just under 90 pitches. Ortiz grounds the 2-2 pitch sharply to Soriano at second, who makes the easy play easily. But he botches a foul pop up in the next at bat that could have gotten Wells out of the inning. Johnson and Mondesi were in on it too. The ball kept drifting towards Sori, who stabbed at it and dropped it. The scorer gives him an error. Oohh, harsh. But he should have caught it.
Mueller works the count full and on the 100th pitch of the night, Boomer Wells walks his ninth man of the year.

Breaking ball, low and away, ball one to Trot Nixon. Fastball, up and in, ball two. Uh-oh. Mel gets on the horn to the bullpen. Fastball, outside, 3-0. Yipe. Orosco is getting up. Holy cow. Wells comes back with a fastball for a strike, 3-1. Misses inside, ball four. Yeesh. Kaat insists that Wells’ back is bothering him. Six walk all year, four tonight.

Here comes Vari. Another Dirt Dog. Fastball low, ball. Wells wanted that one. Looping curve ball, inside, 2-0. Incredible. Wells hasn’t been this vunerable outside of the strike zone all year. Fastball, high. Checked swing. Ball. Wells gestures with his hand, ‘Was is high?’ Oh-uh. Calm down, fly boy. 85 mph fastball strike. Crowd getting hyper. Curve ball, low, ball four. Walk number eleven. Joe comes out. Wells is booed as he walks off the field.

Man, this is a tight spot. And here comes Orosco the crowd is now up and thriving. A tight spot. Old man Orosco comes in to face Johnny Damon. This is ridiculous. How great is this cheese?

Sling-shot fastball, outside corner, strike one. The next pitch is even further outside, ball one. Fastball, in on the hands, fouled back. Jammed him.

My heart is thumpin now. 1-2 pitch, ‘eee stug ‘im out!’ That was a Dan Pleasac vs. Paulie O special. End of inning. Damn.

I’ve said this before, so

I’ve said this before, so excuse me if I repeat myself, but I think that Jay Jaffe’s Futility Infielder features some of the best baseball writing you can find anywhere. ‘Nuff said.

BATTLE IN BEANTOWN The stage

BATTLE IN BEANTOWN

The stage is set for an important three-game series between the Yanks and Sox in Boston tonight. Will the two teams engage in bench-clearing hostilities (the tabloids can only wish)? Will both offenses bash the opposing pitching into submission? Who will be the first Red Sox to homer off Aramando? Will Mr. Kim give up another game to the Yanks? Who will have the best quotes, and who will not talk at all? It will be interesting to find out.

I heard a report that “Moneyball” author, Michael Lewis will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch tonight. Think the Yanks will have Max Frazee return the favor next month?

The Yankees and the Red Sox will play each other nine more times this season. The Bombers hold a 6-4 advantage thus far, and enter Fenway park tonight with a two-and-a-half game lead. The Sox need to sweep the Yanks in order to move into first place. Predictably, the papers in New York are hyping the series as a potential bean-brawl affair. The great Pedro Martinez will try to improve his career mark to over .500 against New York tonight; he faces Boomer Wells. (My spidey sense is telling me that Pedro will humble the Yanks proper tonight.) Mike Mussina goes against old man Burkett on Saturday, and Derek Lowe faces off against Jiffy Pop Weaver on the espn game of the week on Sunday night.

There isn’t much left to say really. The stakes are high and the tension is palpable. There hasn’t been much trash-talking yet, although Johnny Damon characteristically is making predictions again, though they are tame by his standards. The Sox have not swept the Yankees since 1999, and now would obviously be a good time to end that trend. If the Yankees can manage to win two of three, the weekend will be a success for New York.

Nick Johnson is due to join the big club over the weekend. I wonder if Sunday’s performance will determine Jeff Weaver’s future with the club? My feeling is that if he gets pounded, he’ll be gone by the trading deadline.

DON’T CALL ME NIGGER, WHITEY;

DON’T CALL ME NIGGER, WHITEY; DON’T CALL ME WHITEY, NIGGER

Barry Bonds caused a bit of a stir when he dissed Babe Ruth a few weeks ago. Of course, it’s hard to take Bonds’ arguement too seriously–try pitching dude—but I did find his anger revealing. Bonds grew up watching his father go through a difficult time with the media–which was in part because of his blackness, and I’m sure he was aware of how much racism Aaron encountered when he broke Ruth’s record. Ruth represented something sacred to white America, and many African Americans are sick of it. He also represents an era when black players weren’t allowed to play with white players, hence the resentment.

It is ironic then, to consider some of the taunts that Ruth endured during his playing days. He was called a monkey and an ape, and according to R. Creamer’s classic biography:

Beyond the simian insults were rougher epithets built around the word nigger. He was called nigger, nigger this, nigger that, all the vituperative changes on the theme that Jackie Robinson was to endure thirty years later. Ruth was called nigger so often that many people assumed he was indeed partly black and that at some point in time he, or an immediate ancestor, had managed to cross the color line. Even players in the Negro baseball leagues that flourished then believed this and generally wished the Babe, whom they considered a secret brother, well in his conquest of white baseball.

The subject of racism and sabermetrics has been a hot topic this week as well. Check out Mike C’s great takes on the subject, as well as David Pinto’s two-cents worth two. They link all the necessary articles to keep you up to date in Kansas City.

PARDON OUR APPEARANCE Like the

PARDON OUR APPEARANCE

Like the new look? We’ll be back to normal shortly…Thanks.

ANDY: DANDY Andy Pettitte won

ANDY: DANDY

Andy Pettitte won his seventh in a row last night against the O’s, giving him at least 12 victories in his first 9 seasons. Ain’t nobody done that in a long time. (Pays to be on the Bronx Bombers, huh?) I’ve been down on Pettitte this year, saying that I have little faith in him from outing to outing. But he’s been keeping the ball down, and has been on a roll. Kudos to you, Andy. Robin Ventura had a couple of hits, and it seems as if the All-Star break gave him the rest he so sorely needed. Bernie Williams had two hits, and the two outs he made were hit well too.

After giving up a solo home run to lead off the eighth, Pettitte was replaced by Armando, who worked a perfect inning. Rivera got the save. The Sox, lead by dirt dog Trot Nixon—one of my favorite Bostonians—mauled the D-Rays and remain two and a half back. The Sox play the Rays this afternoon, at the same time the Yanks play Baltimore. Clemens will pitch today. It is raining this morning in New York, so if the game is called, Rocket will go against Pedro tomorrow night in Boston.

The Yanks were quick to call the second game against Toronto the other night; how long do you think they’ll wait today? Six o’clock?

HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF?

HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF?

Score a victory for the Sox, as they acquired left-handed specialist Scott Sauerbeck from the Pirates last night. The Yankees have been after Sauerbeck for several weeks, but the Pirates reportedly told Brian Cashman that New York didn’t have enough to get the deal done. The Red Sox didn’t exactly give the Pirates the world. Think the Boss is upset? Think Theo and co. did a little dance?

The Yanks answered by picking up old man Jesse Orosco from San Diego for a player to be named later. So far this summer the Yankees have added Dan Miceli, Karim Garcia, Ruben Ruben, Armando, and now Orosco for their stretch run. Not exactly an imposing group of players.

Excuse me for sounding like a mope, but I just don’t get that championship feeling from this team. Which is not to say they can’t do it. But they have a rent-a-wreck quality about them that is hard to deny. Orosco’s theme music should be Quincy Jones’ theme song for “Sanford and Son.”

Last night’s game was rained out, so the Yanks avoided facing Roy Halladay. They start a two-game series against the streaking O’s today in the Bronx, but with more rain on the way, Roger Clemens could possibly pitch in Boston this weekend after all.

SWEET LOU Pat Jordan is

SWEET LOU

Pat Jordan is one of my favorite baseball writers, and I think he’s surely the best former-player turned writer. Jordan contributes pieces to the Times magazine several times a year, and his latest is on our man in Tampa, Lou Piniella. Worth taking a look at.

CLEARANCE CLARENCE Me writeum blogging

CLEARANCE CLARENCE

Me writeum blogging post. Me hopes me back in saddle.

BLUES Blogger is killing me.

BLUES

Blogger is killing me. It’s eaten my last four posts. So now, this is a test, of the nimrod blogging system. Does this thing work at all?

BLACK AND BOOED The Yankees

BLACK AND BOOED

The Yankees swept the Indians over the weekend to start the second half in fine style (check The Replacement Level Yankees Blog for all the details), but they were derailed last night by the Blue Jays, who are in town for a brief, two-game series. The Yanks lost 8-0, while the Sox beat up the lowly Tigers, 14-5. The Yanks lead is down to three over Boston. Jeff Weaver, who has pitched well of late (including his last outing against Toronto), faltered, and was pounded by the strong Jays offense. Weaver’s curveball was flat, and he got served, plain and simple. When Joe Torre came to get him, the Stadium crowd booed him lustily. John Harper is just one of the local columnists, questioning Weaver’s ability to pitch in the Bronx this morning. With the trading deadline fast approaching, and Boss George due in town today, who would be surprised if the Yanks give up on the moody Californian?

With Nick Johnson close to returning, it’s hard not to fantasize about the Yanks moving him and Weaver as part of a blockbuster package for Brian Giles. Hey, I love Nick Johnson, but a boy can still dream.

SCALPED The Yanks swept four

SCALPED

The Yanks swept four games from the Indians at the Stadium this weekend to start the second half in style. Of course, Armando was the talk of the town—would you believe there are some skeptics who think he’ll choke in the Bronx just like he did in Queens— and he pitched two effective innings on Friday. He was less than stellar on Saturday, so Joe Torre pulled him and Mariano got the Yanks out of trouble. Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter are hitting very well. Raul Mondesi and Alfonso Soriano also had good weekends, where they combined patience with power. David Wells is now 12-3. Talk about a Yankee Doodle Dandy. He is 64-24 as a Yankee.

BALLIN’ The interview I conducted

BALLIN’

The interview I conducted with Jim Bouton for Baseball Prospectus Radio is now posted on the Baseball Prospectus website. You can download the mp3 and catch Bouton talking about his latest book, “Foul Ball.” He also talks about Old Timer’s Day and why the modern ballplayer is superior to the guys he played with in the ’60s; the prospect of a gay player coming out, as well how he ‘invented’ Big League Chew.

Check it out.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver